Welders, Cutters, Solderers, and Brazers

What Welders, Cutters, Solderers, and Brazers Do

Welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers use hand-held or remotely controlled equipment to join, repair, or cut metal parts and products.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rzTzmkoSLg4

Work Environment

Welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers may work outdoors, often in inclement weather, or indoors, sometimes in a confined area. They may work on a scaffold, high off the ground, and they occasionally must lift heavy objects and work in awkward positions. Most work full time and overtime is common.

How to Become a Welder, Cutter, Solderer, or Brazer

A high school diploma or equivalent, combined with technical and on-the-job training, is typically required for anyone to become a welder, cutter, solderer, or brazer.

Pay

The median annual wage for welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers was $42,490 in May 2019.

Job Outlook

Employment of welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers is projected to grow 3 percent from 2019 to 2029, about as fast as the average for all occupations. The nation’s aging infrastructure will require the expertise of welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers to help rebuild bridges, highways, and buildings.

Welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers use hand-held or remotely controlled equipment to join or cut metal parts. They also fill holes, indentations, or seams in metal products.

Duties

Welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers typically do the following:

  • Study blueprints, sketches, or specifications
  • Calculate the dimensions of parts to be welded
  • Inspect structures or materials to be welded
  • Ignite torches or start power supplies
  • Monitor the welding process to avoid overheating
  • Maintain equipment and machinery

Welding is the most common way of permanently joining metal parts. In this process, heat is applied to metal pieces, melting and fusing them to form a permanent bond. Because of its strength, welding is used in shipbuilding, automobile manufacturing and repair, aerospace applications, and thousands of other manufacturing activities. Welding also is used to join steel beams in the construction of buildings, bridges, and other structures and to join pipes in pipelines, power plants, and refineries.

Welders work in a wide variety of industries, from car racing to manufacturing. The work that welders do and the equipment they use vary with the industry. Arc welding, the most common type of welding today, uses electrical currents to create heat and bond metals together—but there are more than 100 different processes that a welder can use. The type of weld is usually determined by the types of metals being joined and the conditions under which the welding is to take place.

Cutters use heat to cut and trim metal objects to specific dimensions. Their work is closely related to that of welders. However, instead of joining metals, cutters use the heat from an electric arc, a stream of ionized gas called plasma, or burning gases to cut and trim metal objects to specific dimensions. Cutters also dismantle large objects, such as ships, railroad cars, automobiles, buildings, and aircraft. Some operate and monitor cutting machines similar to those used by welding machine operators.

Solderers and brazers also use heat to join two or more metal objects together. Soldering and brazing are similar, except that the temperature used to melt the filler metal is lower in soldering. Soldering uses metals with a melting point below 840 degrees Fahrenheit. Brazing uses metals with a higher melting point.

Soldering and brazing workers use molten metal to join two pieces of metal. However, the metal added during the soldering or brazing process has a melting point lower than that of the piece, so only the added metal is melted, not the piece. Therefore, these processes normally do not create distortions or weaknesses in the piece, as can occur with welding.

Soldering commonly is used to make electrical and electronic circuit boards, such as computer chips. Soldering workers tend to work with small pieces that must be positioned precisely.

Brazing often is used to connect cast iron and thinner metals that the higher temperatures of welding would warp. Brazing also can be used to apply coatings to parts in order to reduce wear and protect against corrosion.

Welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers held about 438,900 jobs in 2019. The largest employers of welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers were as follows:

Manufacturing 63%
Specialty trade contractors 6
Self-employed workers 5
Repair and maintenance 4

Welders and cutters may work outdoors, often in inclement weather, or indoors, sometimes in a confined area designed to contain sparks and glare. When working outdoors, they may work on a scaffold or platform high off the ground.

In addition, they may have to lift heavy objects and work in awkward positions while bending, stooping, or standing to work overhead.

Injuries and Illnesses

Welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers risk injury on the job. They are often exposed to a number of hazards, including very hot materials and the intense light created by the arc. They wear safety shoes, heat-resistant gloves, goggles, masks with protective lenses, and other equipment to prevent burns and eye injuries and to protect them from falling objects.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires that welders work in safely ventilated areas in order to avoid danger from inhaling gases and fine particles that can result from welding processes. However, they can minimize injuries if they follow safety procedures.

Work Schedules

Most welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers work full time, and overtime is common. Many manufacturing firms have two or three 8- to 12-hour shifts each day, allowing the firm to continue production around the clock if needed. As a result, welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers may work evenings and weekends.

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers.

Occupation Job Duties Entry-Level Education Median Annual Pay, May 2019

Assemblers and fabricators

Assemblers and Fabricators

Assemblers and fabricators assemble finished products and the parts that go into them.

High school diploma or equivalent $33,710

Boilermakers

Boilermakers assemble, install, maintain, and repair boilers, closed vats, and other large vessels or containers that hold liquids and gases.

High school diploma or equivalent $63,100

Industrial Machinery Mechanics, Machinery Maintenance Workers, and Millwrights

Industrial machinery mechanics, machinery maintenance workers, and millwrights install, maintain, and repair factory equipment and other industrial machinery.

High school diploma or equivalent $52,860

Jewelers and Precious Stone and Metal Workers

Jewelers and precious stone and metal workers design, construct, adjust, repair, appraise and sell jewelry.

High school diploma or equivalent $40,870

Machinists and tool and die makers

Machinists and Tool and Die Makers

Machinists and tool and die makers set up and operate machine tools to produce precision metal parts, instruments, and tools.

See How to Become One $45,750

Metal and Plastic Machine Workers

Metal and plastic machine workers set up and operate machines that cut, shape, and form metal and plastic materials or pieces.

See How to Become One $36,990

Plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters

Plumbers, Pipefitters, and Steamfitters

Plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters install and repair piping fixtures and systems.

High school diploma or equivalent $55,160

Sheet Metal Workers

Sheet metal workers fabricate or install products that are made from thin metal sheets.

High school diploma or equivalent $50,400

For more information about welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers, visit

American Welding Society

Fabricators & Manufacturers Association, International

Institute for Printed Circuits

Precision Machined Products Association

O*NET

Solderers and Brazers

Welders, Cutters, Solderers, and Brazers

Welders, Cutters, and Welder Fitters


Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Welders, Cutters, Solderers, and Brazers,
at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/production/welders-cutters-solderers-and-brazers.htm (visited ).